This is a preliminary post. I'll finish tomorrow.
When the White House posts in celebration of Sunshine Week, you've got to wonder whether the event has gone the way of Earth Day. Is Sunshine Week is now an occasion for yellow-washing, or whatever the analogous term is for greenwashing. As Jack Gillum (twitter, email, ) and Ted Bridis (twitter, email ) of AP's Washington investigative team note,
In a year of intense public interest over deadly U.S. drones, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, terror threats and more, the government cited national security to withhold information at least 5,223 times - a jump over 4,243 such cases in 2011 and 3,805 cases in Obama's first year in office. The secretive CIA last year became even more secretive: Nearly 60 percent of 3,586 requests for files were withheld or censored for that reason last year, compared with 49 percent a year earlier. Other federal agencies that invoked the national security exception included the Pentagon, Director of National Intelligence, NASA, Office of Management and Budget, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Communications Commission and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.The photograph accompanying the article cites Cryptome.org cofounder John Young as saying regarding government secrecy, "The scale is tipped so far the other way that I'm willing to stick my neck out and say there should be none."
Obama is even more secretive than George Bush, despite criticizing his predecessor and promising transparency. He has also invoked the Espionage Act against whistle blowers. As Chris Hedges wrote March 3 in "We Are Bradley Manning," the trial (Manning's redacted statement released March 11 by his attorney, analysis of trial by cryptome.org) represents
a concerted effort by the security and surveillance state to extinguish what is left of a free press, one that has the constitutional right to expose crimes by those in power. The lonely individuals who take personal risks so that the public can know the truth—the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours, the Deep Throats and the Bradley Mannings—are from now on to be charged with “aiding the enemy.” All those within the system who publicly reveal facts that challenge the official narrative will be imprisoned, as was John Kiriakou, the former CIA analyst who for exposing the U.S. government’s use of torture began serving a 30-month prison term the day Manning read his statement. There is a word for states that create these kinds of information vacuums: totalitarian.And just as I'm concerned about the environment all year long, I'm concerned about government secrecy and domestic surveillance. Despite the recent spate of stones on Rand Paul's filibuster about domestic drones illing of American citizens a, how much attention was paid to the hasty renewal of FISA, for instance? Here's a video that I came across today from Julian Sanchez (twitter, email) of the Cato Institute.
And by the way, here's a letter today from House liberal Democrats to Obama complaining about the partial release even to Congress of information about justification for the targeted killing of American citizen.
Sunshine Week is a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Bloomberg, the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.